Adobe Kills Boxed Version Of Creative Suite

Adobe gives up on discs in shrink-wrapped boxes to focus on delivering software as a service for its Creative Cloud customers.

Thomas Claburn, Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

May 6, 2013

4 Min Read

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Adobe has decided not to offer the next iteration of its professional authoring applications on discs in shrink-wrapped boxes in order to focus on delivering software as a service for its Creative Cloud customers.

The company announced the shift at its Adobe MAX conference in Los Angeles, Calif., on Monday.

"We launched Creative Cloud a year ago and it has been a runaway success," said David Wadhwani, Adobe SVP and general manager of Digital Media, in a statement. "By focusing our energy -- and our talented engineers -- on Creative Cloud, we're able to put innovation in our members' hands at a much faster pace."

Though Adobe will continue to sell boxed versions of Creative Suite 6 and its consumer software, like Photoshop Elements and Lightroom, there will be no Creative Suite 7.

Instead, Adobe's updated desktop creative applications will be offered under the "CC" brand, to reflect their association with the company's Creative Cloud service. The revised apps, available next month, include: Adobe Photoshop CC, InDesign CC, Illustrator CC, Dreamweaver CC and Premiere Pro CC. They will be made available as downloadable, installable software that runs on a local computing device to Creative Cloud members with an appropriate subscription.

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Adobe offers annual Creative Cloud memberships for $50 per month. A discounted rate of $30 per month for the first year is available to Adobe customers who own CS3 to CS5.5 licenses. Promotional pricing is also available for some customers, as detailed on Adobe's website.

The broad industry shift toward cloud computing and mobile devices, the popularity of online app stores and Apple's decision several years ago to drastically reduce the prices of professional apps like Final Cut Pro have all helped make Adobe's practice of selling software in boxes with the size and weight of a six-pack of beer something of an anachronism.

To its credit, Adobe began laying the groundwork for a cloud transition last year when it launched Creative Cloud, a way to sell its software as a subscription service.

"We were actually surprised by how quickly customers moved to Creative Cloud," said Scott Morris, senior director of product marketing creative cloud, in a phone interview. Morris said more than half a million paying members and more than two million free members have subscribed in the past year.

One reason Adobe has moved to a cloud-based model so quickly, Morris said, was that the company's engineers found it challenging to maintain two different code bases, one for traditional Creative Suite users and one for Creative Cloud users.

"Allowing the product teams to focus was the right thing for us and for our customers," said Morris.

In an email, Al Hilwa, program director for applications development software at research firm IDC, said that Adobe has persevered through Apple's ban of its Flash technology on iOS devices and a recession that reduced spending on its high-end software to find a future on the Web and in the cloud.

"What seems pretty clear is that Adobe has made a thorough transformation of its desktop software into a set of cloud services," said Hilwa. "Adobe's clients have definitely jumped on Creative Cloud, perhaps even faster than Adobe's fastest projections. What also appears to be the case is that Creative Cloud is attracting additional customers who previously may have been peripheral team collaborators or point users of Adobe products. What is ahead for Adobe is how it will tackle the enterprise with a specific value proposition."

One way that Adobe is dealing with corporate needs is through new Creative Cloud plans for teams and businesses and for education that allow for centralized billing, administration and deployment.

"We recognize the cloud model not right for everyone," said Morris.

About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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